Raising a child in LGBT partnerships or as an LGBT individual can be even more difficult than a traditional heterosexual family. In either case, there is no manual to follow when it comes to parenting.
For LGBT parents, sometimes it’s hard to find guidance, especially outside of bigger urban areas with larger gay populations since the chance of running across other LGBT parents at the park or during some parenting classes is significantly smaller. All in all, there are many LGBT parenting tips necessary for supporting your child, emotionally and practically.
1. Engage with your child.
If you want to break the wall of prejudices, you need to talk to your children on a regular basis. A good way to start with toddlers and preschool children is to read LGBT-positive books to them. Numerous of these beautifully illustrated stories can teach your child a lot about acceptance, different families, and alternate lifestyles.
2. Foster a safe environment.
It is up to you, as a parent, to establish a safe environment for your child. It's easy to do this at home where you have total control; however, outside of the home can become difficult. You need to work proactively to ensure school and other places your child frequents are safe, accepting, and welcoming for your child. If your child's school is lacking in this area, think about making some propositions that would facilitate a more tolerant school that represents family diversity.
3. Find support.
For every parent, it's incredibly beneficial to have support through the parenting journey. Friends, family members, and other parents in your life can prove to be invaluable resources when you need help, someone to listen, or someone to ask questions of. Start building your support system early on, and add to it whenever possible. Seek out especially other LGBT parents who can understand your position and provide you with advice and guidance unique to the LGBT parenting perspective.
4. Teach your child before teaching others.
Children learn tolerance and respect by watching their parents. Teach your children about the importance of diversity and treating everyone with respect. Also, don’t just say it, but behave towards others honestly to send your child a proper message. As an LGBT parent, you may have a unique opportunity to encourage people in your close community to learn by talking openly about your family.
5. Answer questions age-appropriately.
Adopted children usually have lots of questions about their birth family and their identity. Children of LGBT parents especially might also have questions about sexuality. It's best to answer in a calm and straightforward way appropriated to their age and maturity level. Be open and honest, but, don’t overwhelm your child with too much information at once.
6. Respect their feelings.
This LGBT parenting tip is particularly important since children raised by gay or lesbian families differ in their feelings about the situation. Some children just think they are different than other kids and it is completely normal to feel this way since society has a great impact on a child’s emotional development. Respect that and teach them to express their feelings in a respectful way.
7. Create a social network with other LGBT parents.
It is going to be easier for your child to fully understand the beauty of LGBT parenting if you introduce them to other kids with LGBT guardians or parents. When children know they are a part of a community, it is much easier for them to boost their self-confidence, and it allows them to feel more open to be whoever they want to be.